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Diary of a Young Naturalist

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,474 ratings  ·  465 reviews
Diary of a Young Naturalist chronicles the turning of 15-year-old Dara McAnulty's world. From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are raw in their telling. "I was diagnosed with Asperger's/autism aged fi ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 5th 2020 by Little Toller Books (first published May 21st 2020)
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Shreya Ganguly I would not say that this book has a particular age of readers. It truly is a book for all ages. For me, the book is a memoir with diary entries and v…moreI would not say that this book has a particular age of readers. It truly is a book for all ages. For me, the book is a memoir with diary entries and vivid descriptions of nature and the teenage experience as an autistic writer and naturalist. The author of Diary of a Young Naturalist, Dara McAnulty, has a deep fascination for nature and the blossoming world around him. He wrote this book between the ages of thirteen and fifteen so I would recommend this piece to readers of that age. Honestly, adults can take away just as much from his writing and it is perfect for anyone twelve years and older. (less)

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Average rating 4.26  · 
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May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Diary of a Young Naturalist by teenager Dara McAnulty made a splash when it won the 2020 Wainwright Prize for nature writing, a deserved win, it charts a year in his life, the seasons in Northern Ireland, living in County Fermanagh and then the family move to County Down with its Mourne mountains, as he turned from 14 to 15 years old. His prose is incredible, an immersive experience of being autistic, as is everyone in his family except for his dad, how it felt to be bullied, being socially awkw ...more
Diary of a Young Naturalist is what it claims to be, the diary of a passionate young man who loves nature, science, conservation. He also happens to have autism. Actually, his other siblings and mum have autism as well. Fortunately, they all seem to have a strong family bond, built on a love for nature, exploring and, more recently, environmental activism. Dara, mind you, is only sixteen years old.

Dara has a beautiful way with words. I was quite impressed, and jealous, his command of the English
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Nov 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature
A fourteen-year-old wrote this?! Hear more of my thoughts on Booktube! ...more
This year in the life of teenage environmentalist Dara McAnulty’s a gloriously passionate, vivid account of an ongoing, intimate relationship with the natural world. McAnulty’s words often have a graceful, playful thrust, although interlaced with melancholy sparked by his intense awareness of the precariousness of much of what he encounters. This personal uneasiness resurfaces when the feeling of freedom he experiences in wild spaces is juxtaposed with the harsher, difficult to negotiate, social ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and profoundly moving. This book - chronicling a year in the life of one autistic fifteen-year-old with a passion for nature and a close-knit family - is one of the best books on nature I've ever read, with astonishingly beautiful writing (for any age) as well as powerful emotional intimacy and open vulnerability. (Honestly, I'm in awe - I can't even imagine how good his books will become when he's older! Because this, already, is *amazing.*)

On a personal level, this book mea
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020
I have been reading bits and pieces online by Dara for a while now and I'm always impressed with how eloquently he writes.  He sees nature in a way that so few can, he sees beauty in everything (because of Dara I now leave dandelions alone, no more ripping them up) and he has possibly the most patient parents ever,  mine would given me a slap if I started picking apart animal scat to find bugs, instead of freaking out Dara's parents discuss with him what his found.  This book shows that it is th ...more
It is only now that so many of us have lost that connection to the natural world we are starting to realise just how important it is. Time spent outdoors walking along a path, or sitting by the river recharges us in ways that we cannot comprehend, but have a deep need for.

But for some people that connection is much more vivid and real. Dara McAnulty is one of those people. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s and autism just over a decade ago and because he was so different to other children, was th
Dec 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars rounded up

The fact that a 14-year-old wrote this book is astounding! The writing is beautiful and self-aware, as Dara recounts a year in his life connecting with the nature around him in Ireland, spending time with his family, dealing with bullying and depression (CW for suicidal ideation), moving to a new house, and becoming a vocal activist on behalf of the natural world that he loves. He also writes frankly and thoughtfully about the experience of being an autistic te
McAnulty is the UK’s answer to Greta Thunberg: a leader in the youth environmental movement and an impassioned speaker on the love of nature. This is a wonderfully observant and introspective account of his fifteenth year: of disruptions – moving house and school, of outrage at the state of the world and at individual and political indifference, of the complications of being autistic, but also of the joys of everyday encounters with wildlife. It’s easy to forget you’re reading a teenager’s work ...more
Alan Teder
September 8, 2020 Update Diary of a Young Naturalist is the winner of the 2020 Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing and Writing on Global Conservation.

Original Review:
Immersive and Poetic Neurodivergent View of Nature
Review of the Little Toller Books hardcover edition (June 2020)
When we (by ‘we’ I mean autistics) get interested in something, most people would call it an ‘obsession’. It really is not an obsession, though. It’s not dangerous, quite the opposite. It’s liberating and essential to the
Read for Booktube prize. An interesting nature diary by an autistic young man. I tried it on audio but it did not work well for me in that format. The author reads it himself and he is not a poor narrator in fact the opposite but the book has more than you can absorb in that format. (I listen to many, many books on audio so you can take my opinion or leave it).

The diary covers about a year in his and his family's life so we learn about them, where they live and move to and the world around the
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

Read for Shorty September Readathon.
Fulfills the Bermuda Shorts prompt: A book set in another country.

"I must go into the world to find new things. They are always there. Always."

I love the way this family rejoices together at the very simplest wonders of nature. Unexpected bird song or the discovery of insect eggs or tadpoles in the garden can make them whoop with joy and hug each other. Four of the five members of the family are on the autism spectrum, and spending time exploring nature help
Fern Adams
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! As someone who also is autistic and a nature lover this took me straight back to my teens and trying to juggle moving areas, schools etc. Wanting to fit in but not wanting to fit into what the norm is at the same time. Studying wildlife. This is written incredibly well and I ended up reading it in one sitting. Hope this is the first of many books from Dara!
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
This book is beautiful. The writing style is lyrical and so descriptive. I'll give you a few quotes to illustrate that:

"I keep visualising time as a length of string, with a flame burning at one end that represents the present where we can act and be most alive. The ashes are the past, the intact string is the future."

"Each moment is a picture that will never be identically repeated."

"Spring does something to the inside of you. All things levitate. There's no choice but to move up and forwards."
Michaela Mc dermott
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are very few times that I'm completely captured within the first few pages of a book, yet McAnulty achieved this with ease.
I am still astounded by his knowledge of wildlife around him, not defined or limited to one species.
The skill of this book for me is Dara's ability to intertwine nature, folklore, Irish language and history, then discussing his love and need for the nature and using this as a means of highlighting the importance of protecting our world, local and otherwise.
Toria (some what in hiatus)
Mar 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a great nature memoir written by a 15 year old! The book feels both youthful yet mature and is really engaging in his love for nature and his strong bond with his family, his mom and two siblings also have autism like him. I really do hope Dara McAnulty writes another memoir or something else as I really enjoyed his writing.
Diane S ☔
Jul 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nf-2021
Thoughts soon.
Diary of a Naturalist

Dara Mac Anulty is a teenager from Northern Ireland on the autism spectrum. He is seventeen years old. His younger brother and sister, and his mom We “are all autistic, except Dad — he’s the odd one out”. He does write a lot about each of his family members, and they all come through as remarkable. This book won him the Wainwright Prize, which celebrates the best nature writing in the UK.

Dara writes with such passion about nature, I felt I had missed out on so much in my lif
Jackie Law
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Maybe, if we bang our heads against a brick wall for long enough, it will crumble and fall. And maybe the rubble can be used to rebuild something better and more beautiful, enabling our own wildness. Imagine that”

Diary of a Young Naturalist, by Dara McAnulty, is a year long account of the fourteen year old author’s life. It offers an inspiring and uplifting view of nature focusing on flora and small fauna – the insects and birds essential for balance in the ecosystem of which humans are a part.
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
This is good for what it is, mostly a sort of nature diary, but I didn't find it that interesting. It is fairly uneventful and I found it a bit soporific. (Maybe it would be better as an audiobook.) The writing is good, a few passages in particular, but it was usually not good enough to convey the images to me. (Perhaps because I am unfamiliar with most of the species described. I often searched online for images, but this wasn't enough.) Of course McAnulty himself is very impressive. Before rea ...more
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
What a gorgeously written and emotive account of three seasons’ observation of the world around him from this very young author. He describes in almost sensory detail the wild places he visits with his family, the wildlife and plants he sees there and his responses to these experiences, along with comments on his daily life and inner feelings, his hopes and fears for the world he is growing up in. I feel privileged to have been on these journeys with him.

A few passages that struck me especially:
The Book Sheelf
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my top reads of 2020. Full review to follow!
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Beautifully written but for some reason it took me a long time to read. Definitely one for any bird watchers to add to their reading list.
Oct 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great writing but dragged on a little too long in the end. Writer has a unique relationship to nature which becomes visible through his text.
A stunning reflection by a 15 year old boy, over the course of a year, season by season into how nature provides him with a breathing space, a remedy to his own being. Dara is autistic, as are his mother and two siblings, this is a beautiful advantage, because the family seem to understand exactly how to mitigate the intensity of this characteristic.

Dara channels his passion for wildlife and nature into a series of journal entries, written with language that is beautifully descriptive and resona
Saar The Book owl
Aug 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mmc-21
This is the Dutch translation of Diary of a Young Naturalist
This book says what it is: the diary of a passionated young man, who loves nature, science, conservation and so much more and wants to share his passion with his readers. Dara is a boy who happens to have autism, along with his brother, his sister and his mom, but the way he talks about autism is in a brave way, allthough he is struggling with being bullied and dark thoughts, through nature and the strong family bond, he finds the stren
Lily | Literary Lily
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: autism-rep
ugh I just wish I could have loved this book more than I did!

Dara's writing is wonderful and it really does transport you to Northern Ireland and the natural areas he is exploring. I loved how he wrote about his and his family's autism, with such care and warmth, but still being honest. As an autistic person myself, I found it hard at times reading about his bullying and mental health struggles as they are oh so familiar, but I loved hearing about the hope that pulled him through. This is a rea
Jul 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
“I have the heart of a naturalist, the head of a would-be scientist, and bones of someone who is already wearied by the apathy and destruction wielded against the natural world.”

“Skylarks are our Sunday choir as we walk out west, the landscape our place of worship, as it always is.”

 Nature became so much more than an escape; it became a life-support system."

Dara McAnulty is a fifteen year old autistic boy from Northern Ireland. He is also brilliant, a dedicated activist, and a budding naturalis
Jonny R
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was ok
I didn't manage to finish this book and stopped at about 2/3rds way in. It's a fairly short book at about 220 pages and I breezed through the first 50 pages in one sitting but I found it less engaging as I read more and got more and more bogged down in it and realised I wasn't really enjoying it and was constantly looking at how far I'd got before deciding to pick up a new book... I still feel like I might come back to it and finish it but we'll see.

I think my main issue is it's a nonfiction dia
On the Same Page
The blackbird was the conductor of my day, every day, for what seemed like a long time. Then it stopped and I thought my world would fall apart.

I can't say reading this has inspired me to start spending more time with my hands in the mud, searching out small bugs, but it was an interesting, beautifully written book, and it did make me do some thinking.
There's a seal with a strange red protrusion in its body: a wound made by plastic, healed over but with whatever the object is still lodged in pla
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15 year old naturalist, activist and conservationist. My debut book, ‘Diary of a YoungNaturalist’ chronicles the turning of my 14th year, charting the wonders of the natural world, the challenges it faces...and my life as an autistic teenager campaigning to make the world a better place. I am currently writing my second book - a picture book about nature - for kids, 6+!

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